Kolkata Knight Riders have only themselves to blame for not being the team set to face Chennai Super Kings in Sunday’s Indian Premier League final at the Wankhede Stadium.
Chasing 175 for a win the second qualifier against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata were cruising at 81/1 in eight overs before rash decisions brought upon their downfall at Eden Gardens on Friday.
From dropping Rashid Khan on four to reverse-sweeping him instead of playing a defensive shot, Kolkata made some elementary mistakes as Sunrisers Hyderabad pounced on the opportunities that came their way.
Rashid, an expensive drop
It all began with Piyush Chawla dropping Rashid Khan when the batsman was just on four.
The spin trio of Kuldeep Yadav, Chawla and Sunil Narine had bowled the team into a strong position.
Kuldeep struck twice in the eighth over to dismiss Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson before Chawla and Narine struck once each to reduce Hyderabad to 134/6 in 17.5 overs.
Rashid managed to score a boundary of the first ball he faced off Prasidh Krishna but could have been out two balls later had Chawla held on to the catch. The Afghan slapped the ball to deep point and KKR’s leg-spinner rushed ahead to grab the ball instead of standing on the ropes and the ball popped out of his hands for a six.
The 19-year-old then went on to smack Mavi for another six and then scored 18 runs of Prasidh’s last over to score 34 runs from 10 deliveries and take his team to a respectable 174/7.
It was also difficult to understand why KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik turned to Mavi and Prasidh to bowl the last three overs when Chawla had one over left to bowl while even the experienced Andre Russell had bowled just one over in the match.
The choice did cost the team dearly as Prasidh was smashed for 14 runs in the 18th over and 24 runs in 20th over as he ended with 0/56 in his four overs. Mavi was smashed for 12 runs with Rashid hitting him for two sixes as the Hyderabad batsmen scored 50 runs in the last three overs.
Kolkata: Cruise control to self-destruction
But it looked like Kolkata had recovered from that setback pretty well as openers Narine and Chris Lynn gave them a strong start, scoring 41 runs in just 3.1 overs.
The departure of Narine (26 off 13 balls) hardly affected the momentum of the team as Nitish Rana, who was promoted to number 3, added 47-runs with Lynn and the hosts were cruising at 86/1 when disaster struck.
Rana hit Shakib to mid-wicket fence and was off the blocks as he called for two runs. However, as he finished his first run, he slipped on the turn. Instead of telling Lynn to stop, he got up and ran for the second. Rashid was alert to the opportunity and ran him out at the strikers end. Rana threw the bat in anger on his way back to pavilion as he realised his rookie mistake. After this it all went downhill for the Knight Riders.
The experienced Robin Uthappa would have nightmares of his reverse sweep against Rashid when all he needed was to bat sensibly and see his team through as they needed 88 runs in 70 balls to book their final berth.
But he went for a juggler and Rashid upset his woodwork in the 11th over to start a procession of wickets that stopped only with KKR’s defeat.
Succumbing to pressure
The two quick wickets allowed Hyderabad to tighten the noose around the KKR batsmen and even skipper Karthik could not handle the pressure built and played on a Shakib delivery after adding just 8 runs.
He later admitted that the middle order was guilty of not taking the responsibility of seeing the team through.
“Me and Robin had to bat through,” said Karthik after the match. “Me not batting through was a mistake on my part.”
Kolkata never recovered from these blows as Rashid then sent back Lynn and Russell in quick succession. India’s u-19 world cup hero Shubman Gill tried his best to make a match of it from a losing cause but it was a case of too little, too late.